A second division Spanish club taking a small stake in a third division Chinese club won’t make global headlines, but it could see the start of a wave of foreign investment in Chinese football, now that outbound acquisitions have effectively been stopped.
A year ago, Chinese companies were rushing full steam ahead to invest in – or buy outright – soccer clubs from around the world. From Aston Villa and West Brom to Espanyol and Inter Milan, the first waves of investment appeared to herald many more deals. This headline in The Telegraph from September last year, for instance, claimed that another 30 Chinese billionaires were looking to buy clubs.
How quickly things change.
Chinese football added another two major clubs to the country’s portfolio, as the government-backed soccer drive shows no sign of slowing down.
With the sporting world’s attention zeroing in on the Rio Olympics, China’s football industry – as has been the case repeatedly this year – stole back the spotlight. West Brom became the first English Premier League club to be acquired by a mainland Chinese owner. Then, just hours later, AC Milan joined the club as a Chinese consortium took full ownership from Silvio Berlusconi, following the lead of its cross-town rival Inter two months ago. Here are five thoughts on the day’s dealings: Continue reading West Brom, AC Milan added to China’s trophy cabinet
I spoke to Sky Sports reporter Johnny Phillips last week for a piece he did on the increasing amount of Chinese investment directed at English football clubs in recent weeks. Editors being as they are, only a few selected highlights appeared in the finished article, but we covered a lot of ground, so here is an uncut version (completed shortly before the Wolves deal – the latest of the Chinese takeovers – was announced), touching on why rumours spread so quickly, West Brom’s possible owner and his plans for world domination, Sven spouting nonsense and why Wolves fans are probably sleeping better than Villa ones at the moment.
AC Milan is the latest in a long line of European football targets picked out by Chinese investors – and it won’t be the last.
On the football pitch, the Italians are known for a slow, tactical style that, while effective, can bore an opponent into submission.
Off the pitch, it may also be a similar story.
Tony Xia has been hailed in some quarters as Aston Villa’s knight in shining armor, but how much is really known about the Chinese businessman?
Reading the Meet our new Owner introductory page on Aston Villa’s official website, new chairman Tony Xia ticks all the right boxes: young, presentable, well-educated, former player, long-time Villa fan and – as an employer of 35,000 people in 75 countries – presumably also fantastically rich.
But the truth, it seems, is not quite that simple. Continue reading Aston Villa’s Chinese owner: Saint or Sinner?